Vermont seeks input on its energy plan

Michael Bielawski/TNR

SOLAR EVERYWHERE?: Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan requires that Vermonters shift their energy, heating and transportation sectors over to green energy, regardless of costs or negative environmental impacts.

The state wants input on its Comprehensive Energy Plan, so anyone interested in having a say in how Vermont will source energy for heating, electric and transportation needs to take action by mid-January.

The CEP is part of the state’s Climate Action Plan, which is being worked on by the Vermont Climate Council, a newly created bureaucratic body that is part of the recently adopted Global Warming Solutions Act.


The Department of Public Service has created a public input plan that involves stakeholders interacting with the public. The goal is that Vermont must meet “energy and emissions goals and requirements,” which include having 90 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Request for input should be submitted by Jan. 15, and comments on the Public Involvement Plan may be submitted at any time during the CEP process. Those documents can be found here.

“The CEP is integral to informing the PSD’s approach to its policy and advocacy work, and the input of Vermonters is invaluable to ensuring that the breadth of perspectives is considered in the development of the CEP,” department Commissioner June Tierney said.

Annette Smith, director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, says the public should become educated and involved. Smith has been an energy-policy watchdog over the years, noting the environmental impacts of industrial-sized wind and solar power.

“While they are not listing wind in what they are saying are the most promising technologies, wind was part of the Comprehensive Energy Plan,” she said. “And so the opportunity I see is for people to comment and say that what we have learned in the last decade … is that wind energy is not an appropriate technology for Vermont and should not appear in the Comprehensive Energy Plan in any significant way.”

Wind power has been long associated with negative environmental impacts, as well as alleged health impacts from sound and vibration coming from wind turbines.

The state has been actively promoting biomass electric heat pumps for indoor heating, electric vehicle programs, and the expansion of solar power. Smith says that their renewable status should be examined.

“I think those are technologies that people largely support,” she said. “However, I think that I might massage comments on electric vehicles and heat pumps to note that when the sun isn’t shining … the majority of it is natural gas. And so I think that that needs to be considered.”

The cost for new electric cars continues to be over $30,000 after government subsidies, including a $7,500 federal tax credit. On electric heat pumps, they have been found to have performance issues in very cold climates.

One of the policies to be discussed as part of the new plan will be “smart-growth policies.” Smart growth often means encouraging residents to live close together in community centers compared to spreading out over the countryside. Smith said that’s probably not smart if people are going to continue to be worried about viruses.

“I don’t think that everyone wants to go move into close quarters in a city. I think we need to value our rural environment,” she said.

Smith added that she thinks it’s not wise policy to put too much support into any one technology: “I think it is foolhardy to place all of one’s eggs into the electric basket, should we get  [interference] from the sun. The sunspot cycle is heating up.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

9 thoughts on “Vermont seeks input on its energy plan

  1. Here is a critique of the Comprehensive Energy Plan I put together in November 2016. In my opinion it is still applicable and is as follows:
    “As of now the VT 2015 Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) is on track to be a failure in reaching a goal of 40% Renewable Energy by 2035 and 90% Renewable Energy by 2050. No utility / grid can absorb intermittent RE at this level without a costly and dangerous infrastructure for storage. Mammoth Utility battery facilities or Tesla Li-ion home batteries present severe environmental hazards of contamination, fire, and explosion.
    VT Public Service Department’s policy director, Asa Hopkins says in regard to climate change “ no one state or even one country’s actions is attributable to even a few percent of the global warming challenge. So I haven’t calculated out what Vermont’s impact would be” Note: Dr. Hopkins left VT soon after this statement most likely under gag order.
    Recently state Senator John S. Rodgers (D- Essex/Orleans District) said “ the process by which energy projects are developed in Vermont is broken. To regulate development we have the Public Service Board, whose members seem to have been appointed by the governor to further his agenda and policies.” ….. “We have legislators who write policy to serve the very utilities and energy developers that finance their campaigns.”
    When asked if Vermont’s energy goals were achievable, the CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative utility in Grand Isle Co. said, “ It is a nice goal, but the physics of today say you can’t achieve it.”

    Now add to these CEP concerns the electric reliability missteps clearly explained in Meredith Angwin’s recent book “Shorting The Grid, the hidden fragility of our electric grid”. Particularly, renewable energy Chapters 26 through 30 must be required reading for VT legislators and authors of the CEP revision. No excuses. You will be held accountable.

  2. What is going to happen to all the people who use firewood and heating oil and propane who cannot afford to convert to heat pumps? I can’t afford that. Many people also cannot afford to move out of this state. We have what, 75% rural or semi-rural population and they are going to decimate all these people to save the world from climate change which has not been proven, nor is there consensus on the topic. We have got what, 150 years of accurate temperature data, maybe written records of bitter cold winters or sweltering summers, but nothing to give us any history of hmmm, weather being weather. It changes. And the GWSA is going to kill people here, financially or literally. Sad sad Vermont. May not be able to stay another 12 years to retirement!

  3. I’d like TNR readers to ask The Department of Public Service why Vermont isn’t purchasing more Hydro Quebec energy. HQ is selling it at 5.6 cents per kwh, less than half the cost of wind and solar. HQ has all the power Vermont needs. Its sustainable. It’s nearby. It’s carbon neutral. And it doesn’t look like a bunch of highway billboards – which are illegal BTW – covering Vermont’s pasture land and ridgelines.

    • Jay,

      The CEO of H-Q came to Montpelier some years ago.

      He offered plentiful VERY CLEAN, STEADY, NOT-GRID-DISTURBING electricity, at about 6 c/kWh, DELIVERED TO THE BORDER.

      Shumlin sent him packing, because he was “making room” for his wind and solar buddies, who were chasing subsidies.

      The result was the destruction of mountain areas to build a 3-mile-long, 50-ft-wide, access road, to get to over 2000 ft, and then the destruction of 3 more miles of pristine ridge line in Lowell, for GMP’s expensive wind system, consisting of 450-ft tall wind turbines, that took $20 million to connect to the grid, i.e., to avoid blowing up the fragile NEK grid.




    California: California has had a GWSA law since 2006, which resulted in:

    – Rapid increases of electric rates and gasoline prices
    – Huge DUCK-curves, due to midday solar electricity surges
    – Unwise/untimely/political/ideological shutdown of gas plants, which resulted in rolling blackouts, when, during a multi-day heat wave, solar disappearing in late-afternoon/early-evening (DURING PEAK HOURS), and not reappearing until mid-morning THE NEXT DAY, while all that time wind was minimal.
    – A host of rules, regulations, taxes, fees and surcharges, and penalties to enforce behavior modification programs

    With high levels of weather-dependent wind and solar, huge storage (multiple TWh) would be required.
    That storage would cost several trillion dollars, if materials could be found to build such capacity. It would need to cover:

    1) Single and multi-day heat waves over large areas
    2) Wind/solar lulls throughout the year, as frequently occur in New England
    3) Short-term and seasonal variations.

    The ADDITIONAL environmental impact on millions of acres with wind and solar systems, would be enormous all over the US.

    It would be much better to build millions of PASSIVHAUS-style buildings all over the US.
    They would need only 1/3 the energy of the current energy hogs.

    Vermont: For Vermont, the only thing that makes any sense is to stop “emulating” California.
    Vermont should immediately scrap GWSA, and concentrate on:

    1) Energy conservation
    2) Energy efficiency
    3) Building net-zero-energy, and energy-surplus houses and other buildings, by the thousands, each year. See Appendix
    4) Provide incentives to buy vehicles that get more than 35 mpg, EPA combined; the more above the limit, the greater the incentive.
    5) Charge annual fees, paid at time of registration, on existing and new vehicles that get less than 25 mpg, EPA combined; the more below the limit, the greater the fee.

    The above 4 items would save money for Vermonters, and make the state economy more competitive
    Most of the other energy measures are just expensively subsidized hogwash and behavior modifications that would not make one iota of difference regarding climate change.


  5. They should have asked this stuff before unilaterally shutting down VT Yankee and not having a plan to replace the power.

    • Roland,

      Shumlin/Klein and fellow RE travelers had a self-serving plan, but it was UNAFFORDABLE, NAIVE, AND OFF THE WALL, because it was inspired by subsidy chasing and politics.

      Blittersdorf even threatened to move his business to New York State, if he did not get his $millions of subsidies!

      They came up with a bureaucratic, COMMAND/CONTROL, 600-page Comprehensive Energy Plan, that is totally unworkable, would cost at least $1.25 BILLION PER YEAR to implement by 2050.

      As a result of the Shumlin/Klein debacle, Vermont’s CO2 INCREASED, during the past decade,
      However, the US CO2 decreased, due to more clean-burning, low-CO2, NATURAL GAS, USED BY HIGH-EFFICIENCY POWER PLANTS.

      Vermont should have implemented my RATIONAL alternative.
      II told them a decade ago, but no one would listen.

      The same sort of RE people are packing the biased GWSA Committee of 23

      They will offer the SAME NON-WORKING “solutions”, to the detriment of long-suffering, hard-working, over-taxed, over-regulated Vermonters, desperately trying to make ends meet in a near-zero-growth Vermont Economy, while New Hampshire’s economy is booming.

      It is time to vote the self-serving CABAL out in 2022.

  6. Congress presented last-minute COVID bill, with a grab-bag of WIND/SOLAR goodies, using COVID as a cover, for Trump to sign.

    This grab-bag will be helpful to the GWSA Committee



    Current law without this latest action requires any new wind project to start construction before the end of 2020 to earn 60% PTC (1.5 cents) per kWh.
    With the extension they now have until the end of 2021.
    The IRS development window is still in place which means developers have 4 years from the date of starting construction to get their projects in service.
    Offshore wind earned its own benefit – a 30% ITC through to 2025.
    The cost will be exorbitant.

    A key question is whether big wind can afford to be constructed onshore in New England, or the US East coast at a 60% PTC.
    All of the wind built in the recent years have been either at the 100% PTC, or 80% PTC.


    1) NE has a mediocre wind resource (the worst in the US, except the South)
    2) The land is costly to build on
    3) There will be costly delays because of fierce opposition
    4) The extensions/augmentations of the NE grids would be very costly.


    Solar received a reprieve of 2 years on the phase-down of the ITC.
    The ITC phase-down began after 2019.
    Projects that started construction in 2019, get the full freebie of 30% ITC.
    Projects started in 2020, get 26% ITC
    Projects started in 2021, get 22% ITC

    Thereafter a permanent 10% ITC was available.
    Under the change, the 26% ITC continues to the end of 2023, and then phases down to 22%, and 10% respectively.

  7. We already have an environment plan.
    Our cars are now nearly air purifiers, and use half the gas as earlier
    Our homes are far better insulated, and our furnaces more efficient.
    Household appliances use less energy more efficiently
    Vast improvements in communication have used almost no energy

    Nobody in Vermont needs to hang their head about polluting our planet ?!?!

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